A few days ago, I was sitting outside at a coffee shop getting some work done. It was a lovely morning, sunny but not too hot with the perfect amount of breeze. As I chugged away on my laptop, a man walked by on the phone.
I was only within earshot of his conversation for a moment, but the words he was saying got me thinking. They were words that were powerful and kind and true. The words he said made me want to chase after the man and tell him thank you. They made me want to stop for a moment and ponder them. The brief snapshot I got to overhear of this man’s conversation challenged me.
Do you want to know what he was saying? This man traipsed by on his cellphone shouting enthusiastically to whoever was on the other end of the call. He was saying, “GUESS WHO THE MIRACLE IS?!? YOU’RE THE MIRACLE!”
Now, I don’t know if he had a troubled friend or partner on the other line. I don’t know if that person was having a bad week or a bad year. I don’t know a single thing about who he was talking to. What was clear to me, though, was that this man was offering some enthusiastic encouragement to someone who likely needed it.
The thing he said made me smile to myself as he walked by, but it also made an even bigger impact. It challenged me to be a better encourager.
I am a person in constant pursuit of improvement. I am always searching for how to decorate my house better, my next career move, and the next great self-help book. I think this inward pursuit of betterment causes me to hope that others are working to improve, as well. Consequently, it also often makes me blind to all that is great and wonderful about the people in my life.
We all need to improve and grow and challenge ourselves. Also, we all need encouragement from our friends and family. I don’t want to be the reason that my loved ones don’t receive encouragement. I want to shout at them for all to hear, “YOU ARE A MIRACLE!” I want to call out the things they do well. I want to tell my friends why I admire them.
In my pursuit of growth, I need to remember to stop and see the miracles that are already in front of me. I need to notice these miracles. I need to tell my people that they are miracles.
The man on the phone gave me a gift that day. He reminded me of the value of encouragement. Encouragement is a tool so powerful that as that man walked by I smiled, but I also felt encouraged, too. I remembered that we all have this powerful tool in our belt that allows us to bring joy and life into the lives of those around us. I remembered that I’m not using the tool enough. I was encouraged to start using this tool more.
Also, I was reminded that I AM A MIRACLE! And so are you, so go live a day and a week and a life knowing that you are just the miracle you need to be.
Tell me what to do and I’ll do it. Give me a set of rules and I will most certainly follow them. Hit me with the guidelines and I can move forward.
I am what many would categorize as a “rule-follower.” I thrive in the black and white, the clear directions, and the exact playbook. I will follow the rules, often without question, because it is easy. It’s easy to wait for the crosswalk light to tell me to walk. It is easy to stay outside of the lake if I’m not supposed to swim in it. It is easy to park inside of the allotted lines.
But, there’s one thing that gets tricky with rules: they are usually easy, but sometimes they’re not right. It’s easy to follow along blindly and set off on my merry way, but what happens when I stop to think about each rule that I follow?
There are rules that are helpful. There are rules that have no purpose. There are rules that are annoying. These rules might not bring joy, but they probably won’t hurt anyone if I follow them.
The rules that really cause me to struggle are the ones that hurt others. There are some rules that oppress and wound and damage those around me.
I can move forward following every rule without question and that might work for awhile, but if I never question any rule, a little voice inside of me starts gently piping up. The voice asks me who am I helping? The voice asks me why this rule? The voice wonders what the purpose of the rule may be?
As a rule follower, these questions are hard to entertain. Questioning any rule feels dangerous and problematic for my black-and-white soul. Yet, digging a little deeper in my soul, I find a more important rule: to love my neighbor at all costs. This rule drives me forward and gives me the fuel I need to refuse blind submission and invite an eye of criticism into my rule following.
I like the idea of loving my neighbor at all costs, but the part of that rule for life that makes me squeamish is the “at all costs” component. “All costs” can be hard. It can mean lost privileges. It can mean lost resources. It can mean lost respect and lost friendships.
It can mean I might have to break the rules to love well on occasion.
But, loving my neighbor is a necessary rule for my soul to thrive, so I push beyond the potential losses and try to consider each rule that I adhere to. Does each rule make my neighbor feel loved? If it doesn’t, how can I respectfully and kindly disagree with the rule in a way that loves my neighbor?
I have to remind myself over and over again to examine the rules I follow. I want to love boldly and deeply and courageously. Some days courage looks like acting outside of the rules to show love, even when every bone in my body urges me to stick to the rule book.
Now, here’s my point, I think it is respectful to submit to authority most of the time, but if I follow blindly without thinking about my actions, I may inadvertently hurt my neighbor. Let’s follow the rules most of the time, but remember that a goal of loving those around us can be deterred if we follow every rule blindly.
Hi, I'm Emma!
A Maryland girl who moved to Washington state seeking adventure, I adore writing and delight in sharing my favorite things. I celebrate whimsy and you can find me doing a happy dance when something really strikes my fancy.